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Azoff vows to increase performance royalties by 30% with his new PRO

By | Published on Friday 31 October 2014

Irving Azoff

Irving Azoff has said that he will secure royalties for songwriters signed up to his new performing rights organisation, Global Music Rights, that are 30% higher than those collected by US song right collecting societies ASCAP and BMI.

Discussing the decision to launch the PRO as part of his joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Compnay, Azoff MSG Entertainment, Azoff told the New York Times: “I vowed when I started this company that I was going to take care of artists. So I tried to identify places where I felt that artists were not getting a fair deal, and the performance rights area jumped out at me. It was a place where I felt I could help our writers”.

Azoff’s advantage, he believes, is not being subject to the same ‘consent decrees’ that govern how ASCAP and BMI work, meaning his company – just like third American PRO SESAC – isn’t subject to extra regulations and restrictions when negotiating public performance licenses, all things that weaken the big societies’ at the negotiating table.

For Azoff to be able to secure those higher rates, of course, he has to have some big names to negotiate with, to get to the negotiating table in the first place. Though with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Ryan Tedder already having signed up, as well as members of acts such as Fleetwood Mac and Journey, he already does.

That smaller US collecting societies have this advantage over ASCAP and BMI is one of the reasons the two organisations, which represent the vast majority of publishing rights in the US, are arguing for reform of the consent decrees. Rights holders too have argued that the current system needs to be updated, with some threatening to completely withdraw from the big collecting societies if the Department Of Justice – which oversees collective licensing Stateside – doesn’t act. Though the Music Managers Forum in the UK has questioned whether that would be legal.